x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Daddy ABC: Critical acclaim for Emirati film on dad left holding baby

A film directed by Emirati Hamad Alawar catches the eye of International critics

Movie still of Emirati film 'Daddy ABC' - a short film directed by a Emirati director Hamad Alawar whose work has caught the attention of media critics around the world. Photo courtesy Hamad Alawar
Movie still of Emirati film 'Daddy ABC' - a short film directed by a Emirati director Hamad Alawar whose work has caught the attention of media critics around the world. Photo courtesy Hamad Alawar

DUBAI // From Michael Keaton in Mr Mom to Vin Diesel in The Pacifier, men looking after babies have supplied a rich vein of movie comedy.

Now a young Emirati director has given the subject an Arab twist – and his six-minute animated film is winning plaudits worldwide.

Daddy ABC shows the trials and tribulations of a husband whose wife decides she’s had enough of child care and leaves their newborn at home under his care and supervision.

He assumes parenting is easy, and something women should do. When his wife returns, the house is in chaos, and the father learns to appreciate the efforts of parenting, and understands the demands that parenting puts on women.

The comedy has won best short animation at the California International Shorts Festival, took first place in the animation category at the Los Angeles Reel Film Festival and has received nominations at the Blue Plum Animation Festival in the USA and Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.

Hamad Alawar, the director, was nominated for best director and best screenplay at the Southampton International Film Festival in the UK.

“I feel very honoured to have been given the opportunity of turning this script into a short film by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission,” said Alawar, 30, from Dubai.

“Through this journey I have met a lot of people who were creative and hard working. I had the great Gary Rydstorm, a seven-time Oscar winner, mentor me through the whole process. I also enjoyed every step in the production with UAE-born-and-grown Blink Studios. Without them, I think the film would never have seen light in the time frame we had.

“I am also grateful that the film has been received well at many festivals. It’s great to know that many people around the world have had a chance at seeing the hard work put into making it a reality.”

The film was funded and supported by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, which is part of the emirate’s twofour54 media hub.

Alawar created the film at Blink Studios in Dubai, who are specialists in animation.

The director began his career when he graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts in Computer Animation from Miami International University of Art and Design.

He was then appointed to the crime-scene 3-D visualisation section in the Dubai police, but did not give up on his dream of creating films.

His first success, Once Upon A Seed, won the Dubai International Film Festival’s award for best Emirati talent in 2006.

He was also a distinguished new employee in the Dubai government excellence awards in 2007.

Alawar has participated in spreading animation in the region by teaching at the American University of Dubai and has imparted his knowledge to local graduates.

He has also been taught and worked with industry leaders and artists in the animation sectors from companies such as Pixar, ILM and Blueskies.

It is not the first local success story in animated film.

“Ostora was the first musical animated short film in 3-D Stereoscopic and received 34 international nominations and won three awards in Korea, Zanzibar, Dubai Digital Studio Awards and a Special Mention at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2012,” said Nathalie Habib, manager and executive producer at Blink Studios.

“It was the door-opener to Daddy ABC which is now enjoying its own film festival success.“

ksinclair@thenational.ae